One of the things that Chicago landlords fear the most is having a tenant who doesn’t pay rent. That’s understandable; you have your own financial obligations to meet, and some of them probably rest on the incoming rent you should be receiving.
The best way to collect rent on time every month is to ensure you have reliable tenants in place and to implement a fair and consistent rent collection policy. Make sure you understand all state, local, and federal laws in terms of what you can and cannot do while collecting rent.
Tenant Screening Contributes to On-Time Payments
Your tenant screening process should cover everything from credit checks to income verification and criminal background investigations. It’s a good idea to focus on an applicant’s history of paying rent on time. Look for any outstanding debts owed to landlords, property managers, or apartment buildings. Talk to current and former landlords to find out if rent was paid on time. If it was ever late, ask how quickly the tenant was able to catch up. Always conduct a nationwide eviction check to be sure your applicant hasn’t been evicted previously for unpaid rent.
If you’re thorough before you sign a lease, you’ll have a better chance of collecting rent seamlessly once that tenant is placed in your home.
Include a Rent Collection Policy in Your Lease Agreement
Every landlord needs a rent collection policy that’s clear, legally enforceable, and consistent. Your lease agreement should state:
- How much rent is due
- When rent is due
- How rent is to be paid
- Late fees and consequences for late rent
If you allow a grace period, make sure you include that in your lease as well.
If a tenant is late paying rent, follow the terms of your rent collection policy. Charge the late fees, follow up with the tenant, and then post a Five Day Notice if you don’t get a response. Make sure you’re consistent with all of your tenants. If you waive a late fee for one tenant but not another, you could be accused of discrimination and find yourself stuck in a fair housing claim. Collect the late fee from every tenant every time. It will set a standard and keep you out of trouble.
Prepare to Move towards the Chicago Eviction Process
No one wants to evict a tenant because it’s expensive and time consuming, and you’d prefer to keep your property occupied. However, if your tenant is not paying rent despite your calls and messages, you’ll need to take action so you can remove that tenant and replace him or her with a tenant who does pay rent reliably.
When you serve a Five Day Notice, you’re letting your tenant know that they have five days to pay, or you’re beginning the formal eviction process. Usually, your rent will show up before the end of those five days.
If it doesn’t, we recommend you contact a Chicago property manager or an experienced eviction attorney to help you through the court process. It’s not complicated to fill out the forms and file the eviction, but the slightest mistake can get your case thrown out and your eviction delayed.
When your tenant stops paying rent, contact us at Medallion Property Management. We can be your best resources for Chicago property management.